Saffron Pilaf

Here is a delicious recipe offering the rejuvenative qualities of saffron and almonds along with the digestibility of basmati rice.


  • 1 cup basmati rice

  • 1 ¾- 2 cups water

  • 1/3 tsp saffron threads

  • 3 Tbs ghee

  • ¼ cup slivered almonds

  • 1-2 tsps minced hot green chillies

  • 1 ½ Tbs minced ginger

  • 6 whole cloves

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds

  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds

  • 1 small cassia or bay leaf

  • ½ cup chopped green or red bell pepper

  • 1 medium firm ripe tomato, finely chopped

  • 1 tsp salt


  1. Bring water to a boil, remove from heat, add saffron and set aside at least10-15 minutes (the longer you soak saffron the better; overnight is great!)

  2. Heat ghee over moderate heat until hot. Add slivered almonds and stir-fry until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Drop in chillies, ginger, cloves, cumin, mustard seeds and bay leaf. Fry until mustard seeds turn grey and pop.

  3. Add bell pepper, sauté 4-5 minutes. Stir in rice and fry 1-2 minutes.

  4. Add saffron water, tomato and salt. Bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to low, cover and gently simmer without stirring for 20-25 minutes or until rice is tender and fluffy.

  5. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5 minutes.

  6. Gently fold in the almonds or serve as a garnish for guests to add as they please.

Source: Adapted from Yamuna Devi, Lord Krishna's Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1987).

Alakananda Ma M.B., B.S. (Lond.) is an Ayurvedic Doctor (NAMA) and graduate of a top London medical school. She is co-founder of Alandi Ayurveda Clinic and Alandi Ayurveda Gurukula in Boulder Colorado, as well as a spiritual mother, teacher, flower essence maker and storyteller. Alakananda is a well known and highly respected practitioner in the Ayurveda community both nationally and internationally.

Enliven your holistic health! Visit Alakananda Ma in Alandi Ashram’s ayurvedic clinic to support the overall rejuvenation of your body, mind, and spirit. In-person and virtual appointments available. Book now!

Ayurvedic Recipes_Saffron Pilaf